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Strange Angel

Strange Angel : The Otherworldly Life of Rocket Scientist John Whiteside Parsons

George Pendel’s Strange Angel is about pioneering Rocket Scientist Jack Parsons, who played a pivotal role in the creation of Pasadena’s Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL). A self-taught explosives expert, Parsons also led a double life: He was fascinated with the occult, and was chosen by Aleister Crowley to lead the local chapter of the Ordo Templi Orientis, an alternative religious sect which was practicing “free love” in the late 30s and early 40s.

Parsons roomed for a time with L. Ron Hubbard shortly before Hubbard wrote “Dianetics” and founded Scientology. Hubbard eventually ran off with Parson’s girlfriend and much of his savings.

The book contains fascinating early 20th century histories of Los Angeles, Pasadena, CalTech, JPL and the alternative religious movement. Numerous LA-based science fact and science fiction luminaries, such as Theodore von Kármán, Ray Bradbury,
Forrest J. Ackerman and John W. Campbell appear in the book.

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